Happy Mother’s Day 2016!

On this Mother’s Day, I lovingly dedicate that above William Wordsworth poem… present that video bouquet to my late Mom. After all, the daffodil had been her favorite spring flower. It has been a little more than 13 years since she passed away and while I am certain life eternal awaits us all… I believe I can still do one last thing to immortalize her life on Earth.

On this special day… I’d like to submit and commit my Mom’s Memoir to the realm better known as the World Wide Web.

Why? Because it has oft been said that nothing ever dies on the Internet… and in this context… I do love the sound of that sentiment.

The words that now follow are from the second half of the eulogy… which I had composed… which I had delivered at…

Mom’s Memorial Service… April 22, 2003 10 a.m.

To be with a loved one till the very end…

“makes us aware of the uniqueness of each individual in the vast sea of humanity. It makes us aware of our finiteness, our limited lifespan …in that brief time, most of us create and live a unique biography and weave ourselves into the fabric of human history.” — Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

I’d like to now share my Mom’s unique biography… this is… this was her life.

Not many knew what her middle initial stood for… but Mom had kept her maiden name as part of her legal name generations before women’s liberation had made it commonplace.

Although I only knew her as a dedicated, stay at home Mom… she did spend several years teaching English and Literature in the public schools in Minnesota and briefly in our hometown. She then broadened the scope of her lesson plans to teach life’s lessons to my sister and me… when Dad and she felt raising a family was more important.

Mom was always there to cook our meals… pot roasts with browned potatoes, a Slovenian dish štrukle, breaded chicken and pancakes all being her specialties. She was an expert at canning corn on the cob, tomato sauce, as well as a jam… a unique, extremely tasty peach/pineapple conserve. She won numerous blue ribbons at the local fair, many a September.

But baking was where she really excelled… all those delectable breads, kuchens, poticas, chocolate cakes, apple pies, and Christmas doughnuts… some plain, others coated with sugar and cinnamon. I can still taste them… warm… literally melting in my mouth.

Mom also loved the outdoors… to be communing with God as she tended her mums, tulips, irises and daffodils. While others loathed them, she loved the dandelion… only cutting them down with her hoe after they went to seed. She and Dad kept our yard pesticide/herbicide free and nurtured the apple and pear trees they had planted as well as the five wild raspberry canes… that later proliferated into hundreds. They also raised tomatoes, green beans and leaf lettuce… that is… until rabbits moved in to harvest these crops first.

Before arthritic fingers limited her ability, Mom and Dad used to play a duet on our piano, a very spirited rendition of Five Foot Two, as well as her solo, Stardust, the latter with such emotion and passion there had to be a story she never revealed… perhaps of love lost… that so moved… so inspired her.

She despised TV, only really caring for Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy and Who Wants To Be a Millionaire… gameshows she could play along with. Katherine Hepburn and Clark Gable were her favorite actors. She liked the slapstick humor of The Three Stooges and in the Home Alone films. The Big Band era of the thirties and forties provided her, her favorite music. But she did enjoy the early Beatles, as well.

Mom read the daily newspaper and was very upset with the injustices in our world. She was very opinionated and we had many lively discussions about current events. She also read the hundreds of books in her considerable home library… finishing, in her final weeks, Zlata’s Diary by Zlata Filipović.

Mom loved writing and kept a daily journal to chronicle her life’s experiences, never missing a day until she began ailing in her final months. She also recorded the daily weather statistics. She corresponded with her big sister, Justine… their exchanging letters two or three times per month for over forty years… up till just before Justine had preceded Mom in death.

Mom was an avid Scrabble and Cribbage player. She had been fortunate, one night, when Dad dealt to her the very rare, perfect twenty-nine hand. Aficionados of the game claim it to be a once in a lifetime event. Although I never had that luck when Mom and I played cards, she did deal me the next best… the twenty-eight hand… twice, over the years.

Well, twenty-nine hands are rare, as was the privilege of knowing my Mom. I’ve had much time over the last several days to sum up her nearly ninety years and the almost half a century that she was in my life. So I can now say this with certainty. The most important of life’s lessons my Sister and I ever received from our Mom, our mentor was… above all else… that love and caring is what really matters. Give and you will receive.

I now thank all of you @WordPress for attending today. I appreciate your indulging this (perhaps overly?) sentimental blogger. Be sure to remember your own Moms on this special day.

 

Was It Divine Intervention? (Part 3)

As Part 2 of this series concluded, we stood together at rainbow’s end while I spoke of that full spectral arc… believed it to be Divine Intervention… God’s validation of my Mom’s decision to “no code” her husband… free my Dad from his hospital ICU torture chamber… permit this terminally ill man the death our false hopes had denied him.

I now welcome you to Part 3. This installment has four subheadings titled:

A Time of TransitionA Time to Die… A Sliver of Sunlight… A Time to Reflect.

I’ve linked two of my companion blogs to this one… and… unless you’ve already read them… I strongly recommend you follow these links as they appear… I believe the depth they add to this posting to be immeasurable.

A Time of Transition…

On the eve prior to my Dad’s ill-fated surgery, the last words he’d ever spoken to me were… “Keep the home fires burning.” Ergo, from 1988 through 2003, I was caregiver to Mom… caretaker of her property… thereby allowing her to remain in her home sweet home for her final fifteen years.

During that time, Mom and I had oft regretted how Dad’s “full code” hospital status” had condemned him to “living” a zombie-like existence. No matter how many times we had rehashed this… each and every time we’d wind up looking each other squarely in the eye to solemnly vow we’d never do that to each other.

I was so glad we had had those frank discussions; too… for it was in early 2003… after Mom had fractured her femur and was convalescing in a nursing home… when pneumonia’s deadly chokehold would not permit her to rally.

With all reasonable, medical treatment options exhausted… with Mom’s quality of life steadily worsening with each passing second and her chances for recovery near zero… there I was… staring down at that nursing home “full code” / “no code” form.

Mere days earlier, a Judge had appointed me to be my Mom’s legal guardian and so her fate now rested in my hands. It would’ve been far too easy to feel the same false hopes for my Mom (the same type of false hopes Mom and I had felt for my Dad). But, I simply could not ignore Mom’s voice echoing in my memory… could not turn a deaf ear to her past impassioned pleas… “Please don’t EVER let that happen to me!”

While I hated “no coding” my own Mother… I hated the thought of her suffering even more. Choking back my tears… I signed on the dotted line and handed her fate off to God. After all… even if I had made the wrong decision… He could always intervene to let her recover and continue to live.

 A Time to Die…

My showing my Mom mercy had spared her untold misery and she had died a pain free, dignified death. The final chapter of her life can be read in my posting: Going Home… Going Home…

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, author of On Death and Dying, once described it thusly:

“Watching a peaceable death of a human being reminds us of a falling star; one of the million lights in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment only to disappear into the endless night forever.”

Six days after Mom had gone to her Heavenly home, I presided over her Memorial Service. Having pasted on my bravest, public face, I had somehow managed to tearlessly deliver her heartfelt eulogy to a larger than expected gathering of mourners and well-wishers… a fifteen minute summation of her near ninety year long life and times.

With nothing else left for ME to do for my Mom… it was now time for ME to go home… to consider what I’d be doing for ME… in whatever time remained for ME on Earth. And after thirty years of helping my folks… how odd it felt to be prioritizing ME at the top of my to-do list.

A Sliver of Sunlight…

On the one-year anniversary of my Mom’s death, I began what was to become my annual ritual to honor her and keep her memory alive. My honoring her request that she be buried in her family plot in Minnesota, had meant I’d be paying my respects from afar… in two special, serene locales within my Michigan, hometown’s city limits.

It was seven years into my newfound family tradition, when something magical happened… my third “Oh Wow” moment… a jaw dropping, astounding, meteorological event which I could not interpret to be anything other than Divine Intervention. I tell more about my experience in my posting: A Sliver of Sunlight

A Time to Reflect…

So here I am in the here and now of 2016. I certainly intend to keep my eyes wide-open to see if any other episodes of Divine Intervention will come my way. Since, so far, they’ve all been weather related… I know my gaze should focus skyward… and since I’ll be already looking up… I’ll be certain to thank our Creator for having never let me down.

Of course there is that “Good things come in threes” adage so… might I have already maxed out my Divine Intervention limit? If that’s the case… then this makes those I’ve already experienced all the more precious. For sure, I’ll treasure these special days and events for the rest of my mortal life… and throughout eternity…

November 9, 1973 ~ The sunbeams breaking through the wintry cloud deck after I had narrowly avoided a fatal head on crash with a semi on that iced over, US-23 overpass. I believe God had spared me so I could carry on till tomorrow… live on through three more decades worth of tomorrows… just to be there to help my folks when they had needed me the most.

November 1, 1988 ~ The rainbow, which told Mom and me that my terminally ill Dad’s storm was finally coming to an end… had assured us both that only death could bring his agony to an end.

April 16, 2011 ~ The sunbeams, which had acted as a Heaven to Earth conduit… streaming my Mother’s love, eternal, upon me. After an eight-year long silence… it had sure felt so good to “hear” my Mom, once again, “say”, “I Love You!”.

 

 

Going Home… Going Home…

My Mother had enjoyed a remarkably healthy life for eighty-nine years. But after her heart attack in early 2002, things were never the same again. At first, my caregiver efforts (with a homecare agency assist) worked out fine. But the following year, after she broke her leg, she wound up in a nursing home. It was there that pneumonia seriously complicated matters.

My cell rang in the eleventh hour on that fateful Tuesday morning. Her doctor’s prognosis was grim…

“Your Mother is in the active stage of dying.”

The nursing home only a mere mile away, I was seated at Mom’s bedside within fifteen minutes.

What was to become my twenty-two hour vigil had begun. For the first six hours, Mom was talkative. We professed our love, prayed, reminisced, at times, even laughed. We reveled in our joyous, carefree mood where… had I not known better… I’d have believed she’d soon be homeward bound… homeward bound…

Late that afternoon, it must’ve been Mom getting her first glimpse of her Heavenly, family reunion that prompted her final words… among them… I kid you not… her spoken with awe…

“They ALL came!”

And then… she spoke no more.

As her vital signs waned, the twilight in her window faded into nightfall and the overhead light fixture’s pale blue fluorescence now suffused her room. Throughout the night, I was experiencing what Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, author of “On Death and Dying”, describes as “The silence that goes beyond words.”

Shortly after sunrise, I had nodded off in my chair but, somehow, did manage to open my eyes just as Mom was drawing in her final breath. “Wednesday’s Child” had made Wednesday, April 16th her final day on Earth. True to her lifelong morning person traits, twenty-three minutes into the ninth hour, Mom had reached Earth’s exit signs.

After composing myself, I, too, headed for the exit signs. Now standing outdoors, I had left that nursing home scene far behind… inhaled the onrush of sweet, fresh air… joined… already in progress… a spectacular, birds chirping, spring morn awash with warm sunlight.

I sat on a bench to mourn. As I looked up to the sky… I could envision Mom still lingering at Heaven’s threshold… her loving gaze upon me. I could almost hear her say…

 “My gifted son… I love you dearly and wish you continue to do well”*

I could practically feel her till-we-meet-again blown kiss touch my cheek… see her slow farewell wave as she reluctantly… oh so reluctantly… turned away… took those final steps to fade into the Heavenly mist.

On the drive home, I thought back to everything Mom had taught me throughout my lifetime. And how she had saved the very best lesson for the very last. To teach it to me, all she had needed were the three words, “They ALL came!’ Her way of assuring me that everlasting life really does exist.

My own mortality no longer seems quite so scary as it once was.  I know that when my final day on Earth arrives… Mom will be there to show me the way home.

* The actual message my Mom had handwritten inside the very last birthday card she had ever given to me.